Crazy-good pumpkin garlic knots, made by baking knots of pumpkin-infused pizza dough until perfectly crispy and then tossing them in garlic-infused olive oil. I highly recommend making a double batch - these disappear quickly!
In a large bowl, stir together 1/4 cup of the warm water, the yeast, and the agave nectar. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, until frothy (this is to make sure the yeast is working).
Stir in the rest of the water, the pumpkin puree and olive oil, and whisk to combine. Add the salt, flour, and stir; continue stirring until the mixture starts to come together as a dough. (It will probably be quite sticky).
At this point you can either transfer the dough to a floured surface, or keep working on it inside the bowl. I prefer the latter, for easier cleanup. Knead the dough, adding a little bit more flour at a time as needed, for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and fairly stretchy. I used between 2 tablespoons and 1/4 cup of additional flour during the kneading process. You are looking for a dough that is quite tacky (moist), but doesn't stick to your fingers when you carefully handle it.
Very lightly oil the dough and let it rest in the bowl (or a new one), covered with a plate, damp towel, or plastic wrap (this is to keep the moisture in). Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size. The time needed for this will vary depending on ambient conditions; mine took about an hour. I recommend preparing the garlic oil during this time; see instructions below.
Punch down the dough and get some extra flour ready. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
One at a time, grab big pinches of the dough, flour them, and roll them out into a thin rope shape. Then tie the rope into a knot. Place the knot onto your baking sheet; leave some space between the knots because they will grow in volume again while baking. The size of the garlic knots is up to you. I make approximately one dozen from this dough. You can weigh the dough and each section of it in order to ensure uniform size of the knots, but it's not necessary to do so.
Let the knotted knots rest (for no more than 15-20 minutes) while you preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brush each knot comprehensively with the garlic-infused oil. Place the tray of pumpkin garlic knots in the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, rotate the tray, and brush all of the garlic knots with a second coating of oil. Return to the oven and bake until lightly browned and crisp (5 to 10 more minutes; longer if you made them fairly large).
Once you remove the garlic knots from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes. Then, add them to a bowl along with the infused oil, and gently toss to coat. Sprinkle the garlic knots with parsley and vegan parmesan, if using, and serve immediately.
Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container and reheated in the oven or toaster oven, but they're nowhere near as good as when fresh.
For the garlic-infused olive oil:
Warm the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic, salt, black and red pepper (if using). Continue to very gently simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture is fragrant, the garlic is softened, and the flavor of garlic can be tasted in the oil itself.
MAKE AHEAD: After preparing the dough up until the point where you let it rise for 60 minutes, you can cover it in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight, instead of in a warm place. The next day, bring the dough all the way back to room temperature before punching it down and continuing with the garlic knot making process. You can also make the hemp parmesan in advance, if using. The garlic infused in oil can be made earlier in the same day, but should also be brought completely to room temperature before using.ALTERNATE FLOURS: Bread flour, with its high protein content, is what helps make these pumpkin garlic knots so fluffy and easy to work with. All-purpose flour is a workable substitution. Whole grain flour will significantly decrease your enjoyment of these garlic knots, by giving them a grittier, denser texture and a more pronounced flavor that competes with the garlic. I have not tried gluten-free flour with these and imagine the recipe would require significant changes in order to be gluten-free.Sources consulted: Emeril Lagasse, Never Homemaker